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Mildred Pierce Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (May 14, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679723218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679723219
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cain's classic novel, and the source for the 1945 film starring Joan Crawford, makes its way onto audio with this reading by actor and singer Williams. Cain's purple prose and then-scandalous dialogue take on new life under Williams's direction, her assured tone underscoring the legendary noir writer's rip-roaring tale of a woman scorned who survives no-good men and a hateful daughter to make it in 1930s Los Angeles. Williams is out of her depth encountering tense or high-pitched dialogue, reading it in a clipped monotone that does little for Cain's drama, but is on far stronger ground with the rest of the book, which flourishes under her steady, patient, ever-so-slightly melancholic gaze. Williams's reading lacks the rage that moved Crawford's Mildred, but her version of the now-familiar story amplifies our sense of Cain's heroine as an abandoned woman who finds her own way, on her own terms. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

''[James M. Cain is] the poet of the hard-boiled school of the American novel.'' --The Washington Post

''Nobody has quite pulled it off the way Cain does, not Hemmingway, and not even Raymond Chandler.'' -- Tom Wolfe

''Cain can get down to the primary impulses of greed and sex in fewer words than any writer we know of.'' --The New York Times

''A novel that, once begun, will almost surely be read to the end . . . it reflects no codes, no restrictions, and none but the primordial necessities. It is a bath in sensation.'' --New York Times Book Review

''[Mildred Pierce] take[s] on new life under Williams's direction . . . [the story] flourishes under her steady, patient, ever-so-slightly melancholic gaze. Williams's reading . . . amplifies our sense of Cain's heroine as an abandoned woman who finds her own way, on her own terms.'' --Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

If you watch the movie, please do read the book.
Upapalmtree
He also shows Mildred's various flaws, the fatal one being her obsessive love/worship/need for the respect of her daughter Veda.
K. Swanson
I have seen the movie several times, and decided to read the book.
Fly Fishing Lady

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 94 people found the following review helpful By jenbird on December 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
I don't know quite where to start when writing a review of this book. Even though I had seen the movie and so knew more or less how the story would unfold (or thought I did), I still couldn't put the book down. The Washington Post said that "James M. Cain is the poet of the hard-boiled school of the American novel," and that compliment is well deserved. I was immediately drawn into the story and stayed completely absorbed until the last page. As others have mentioned, the book is much darker than the movie, and more complex as well. I went back and read the last chapter over a few times just to savor the ending again. The first time it was so startling that I couldn't quite believe what I had read. This is just one example of the power of Cain's writing. It's simply remarkable.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By lazza on November 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Mildred Pierce is one of those 'tough as nails, heart of gold' mothers who should an inspiration to all women. She kicks out her dead-beat husband, works her tail off to keep food on the table and her daughters happy, and has the guts/brains to start her own successful business. So what's wrong (and why did James M. Cain bother to write about her)?
Unable to face reality, Mildred is the victim of her own blindness to her rotten eldest daughter's ways. Not only is her daughter unappreciative, she actually ridicules her mother as being some uncouth and ignorant embarassment. Mildred's toughness melts when confronting her monster daughter, much to her detriment. While a heartbreaking story overall, the ending is especially moving ... have your hankies ready.
Perhaps many folks reading this review has seen the famous film adaption (starring Joan Crawford) of Mildred Pierce. While the film generally carries the intent of James M. Cain's written word, there are several differences. Obviously Hollywood wanted to over-dramatize, or simply invent scenes. As much as I like the movie I enjoyed the book more; I found it to be more personal , intense and believable.
Bottom line: required reading by all mothers, strongly recommended to everyone else.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By carol irvin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I never met a James M. Cain novel I didn't like and this one was no exception. The title is of the lead character who rises to great success during the Depression with a series of restaurants in early California. However, she has one big problem: the daughter she raised alone, Veda. Veda becomes a singer and also a master at deceiving and betraying her mother. Veda does not even consider her mother's spouse, her stepfather, off limits. This showcases the same intense Cain focus on a twisted relationship but this time it is on the mother-daughter relationship, arguably a more powerful one than the lover-lover one. This was made into a movie starring Joan Crawford, who won an Oscar playing Mildred. I thought this film version went too over the top though and veered into being maudlin and soap operaish. Stick with Cain's novel, the far more complex work.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By "verona_beach" on June 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
It's inevitable that most readers should go into this book with the excellent film version starring Joan Crawford in their minds. However, the two are quite different beasts, which is a credit to the strength and originality of both.
This is not a crime novel as the film implied, but a tough Depression era story of a woman determined to get by in a world of snobbery and class prejudices that even she herself cannot deny that she holds. When she becomes a single mother, Mildred is ashamed to have to take on a job as a waitress to keep her children in the relatively wealthy lifestyle to which they are accustomed. With nothing more than determination, she becomes the mistress of a restaurant empire and a wealthy businesswoman. But none of this is enough to endear her to her spitfire daughter Veda, whom she both dislikes and passionately admires.
It comes as a surprise that the Mildred of Cain's novel is more a Veronica Lake than a Crawford, a short-skirted coquette who uses her physical as well as mental assets to achieve what she needs. More complex is Mildred's relationship with Veda, and the character of Veda herself, a swaggering, overbearing, thoroughly nasty piece of work. If you thought Ann Blyth's Veda was unlikeable, meet this one! It's even more clear here that Mildred's motherly love has turned into unhealthy obsession. Unlike the film, the monster that is Veda is never really exorcised here.
It's the ending of the book which lets the rest down. The final quarter seems hasty - it smacks of an author who is getting a little tired of his characters and has run out of hoops for them to jump through. And while the book closes on a bleak sort of denouement, no real sense of conclusion or capitulation is gained.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By K. Swanson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Hammett, Chandler, Ellory, and a few others who can take you inside the minds of people you'd never want to meet, yet might resemble a little too much. But as time goes by I'm beginning to lean towards Cain as the master of the noir genre, and this as his masterpiece.

As much as people love the Curtiz/Crawford film, its wellspring is overall a much finer, deeper work. Where the movie panders to its audience by including a murder that doesn't occur here (and needn't), Cain never once takes the easy route of administering easy moments of "justice" (read enough noir and that word will never seem the same...). He knows how people work, and it ain't very pretty most of the time, and he ain't afeared that we'll be unentertained when things go all too realistically.

Our heroine here is in most respects a very sympathetic lady, and we start pulling for her right out of the gate. But Cain doesn't let us off that easy. He also shows Mildred's various flaws, the fatal one being her obsessive love/worship/need for the respect of her daughter Veda. After a while any sane reader has to start disliking Mildred a bit for this myopia, and wondering how a woman so bright in other matters can be so blind regarding her daughter. Yet Cain paints her portrait so thoroughly, blemishes and all, that we must eventually forgive her this tragic blindness and thus suffer with her as she is mistreated ever more hideously by her demon progeny.

Veda is so ruthless, and ruthlessly portrayed, that it gets a bit much at times, and we begin to lust for her comeuppance. What makes Cain so intensely unforgiving, and accurate, is that she never gets it.
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